Be the Nurse You Would Want as a Patient

by tnbutterfly, BSN, RN Admin | 29,504 Views | 26 Comments

Have you ever been a patient in the hospital? If not, count yourself very lucky. If you havenít had the experience, you can use your imagination. What made the experience a memorable one.......good or bad?? As we go through each day, let's try to imagine what we would think if we were in the patient's place. Let's be the nurse that we would want as a patient.

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    Be the Nurse You Would Want as a Patient

    If you have had the misfortune of being a patient in the hospital, what stands out about your experience? No matter the specific reason for your admission, Iím sure it was an experience you would rather not have had. What was it that made your experience a good one.......or a not so good one?? Was it the care you received......... or the care you did not receive??

    Nurses do not have the ability to change your reason for being in the hospital, but they do have the capacity to make your hospital experience a more pleasant one. I am not talking about customer care, so to speak. I am talking about nursing.........including the little things. What might seem little to us may mean the world to the patient. Think about lying in bed in pain....not being able to get out of bed by yourself....dependent upon strangers for even the small things.....like a drink of cold water......assistance to the bathroom......kind words of explanation regarding tests and procedures......common courtesies. Nurses can change patient experiences ó making difficult things less difficult, being present when there are painful and uncomfortable situations, being there to help navigate through the confusing medical world.

    We all know all the administrative tasks vying for our time as nurses, with technical and managerial aspects of care sometimes taking priority over delivery of care. We also know that increased patient loads decreases the amount of time we can spend with each patient. Sometimes we get so caught up in all the ďthingsĒ we have to do that we forget what one of our main jobs is.....to compassionately and empathetically care for the patient. But the patient is more than a name, a room number, a diagnosis..... The patient is a real person with feelings, concerns, and needs. We only get to see them while they are hurting. But we must remember, that this patient has a life outside of the hospital......or at least they did before they got to the hospital. For all we know, this may be their last stop before they die. Ours may be the last face that they see......our words the last that they hear.

    If you were the patient in room 37-H who had just been told that they only had a few weeks to live, how would you feel? What would you want from your nurse? How could she/he help ease the blow you had just been dealt? It is true she/he cannot change your diagnosis.....cannot take away the disease that is slowly taking your life. But she can help to ease some of your physical and mental discomforts.......by just being there......for you and you family. Being there to listen and answer questions. Being there to see if you would like for her/him to call your pastor or the hospital chaplain. Being there to hold your hand when others have gone home for the night.

    Sometimes we forget that bedside nursing involves being at the bedside for more than procedures, medications, assessments. Yes, all of these things are definitely important to the care of our patient. But we must also remember that it is at the bedside where we can let the true compassion of our profession shine through some of the darkest hours that our patients and their families face. Remember.........one day we will all experience those dark hours. Maybe it will only be a few days before the sun shines again for us and we are discharged home. Or maybe it will be for the final time that we will see the light shine on this side of death. When our time comes, letís hope that we are lucky enough to get the type of nurse we were to our patients.

    As we go through each day, let's try to imagine what we would think if we were in the patient's place. Let's be the nurse that we would want as a patient.


    To read more articles, such as Munchausen by Internet: The Lying Disease that Preys on the Heart, and When Nurses Cry, go to my allnurses blog: Body, Mind, and Soul
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Feb 20, '13
    nifty_n, SeattleJess, Archerlpvn, and 14 others like this.
  2. About tnbutterfly, BSN, RN

    tnbutterfly has been in nursing for more than 30 years, with experience in med-surg, pediatrics, psychiatrics, and disaster nursing. She is currently a parish nurse.....a position which she has had for the past 15 years.

    tnbutterfly has 'More than 35 years' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Parish Nsg, Disaster Nsg, Peds, Med-Surg'. From 'TN'; Joined Jun '06; Posts: 22,140; Likes: 12,686.

    Read more articles from tnbutterfly

    26 Comments so far...

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    Dear OP,Thank you for reminding us that not all of our patient's are only out to scam us (drug-seeking, 'getting their money's worth as an in-patient, etc). I just wish we could get our 'thanks' for actually helping those who need it and appreciate it...karma does not seem like enough anymore.
    SeattleJess, anotherone, goalienrse, and 2 others like this.
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    Excellent post!!! I have always *tried* to think/be this way!
    SeattleJess, jaggy123, anotherone, and 4 others like this.
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    Great post as Always tnbutterfly!!!

    I have seen both sides of that coin...I will continue to hold that mantra close to my heart and remember the excellent care that I received as a pt...I focus on that more than the occasional "bumblings" I got from other nurses...that experience TRULY made me a better nurse!
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    Quote from LadyFree28
    Great post as Always tnbutterfly!!!

    I have seen both sides of that coin...I will continue to hold that mantra close to my heart and remember the excellent care that I received as a pt...I focus on that more than the occasional "bumblings" I got from other nurses...that experience TRULY made me a better nurse!
    Thank you!!

    I agree. Being on the other side of the bedrails gives one a whole different perspective.......one we can all learn from.
    SeattleJess and herring_RN like this.
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    Yes, it's easy to lose perspective when you've been in nursing for a while.

    Families in the hospital are a handful, and lord knows they're annoying at the best of times. But remember, we're seeing them at their worst. When we see them it's usually among some of the worst and most stressful days of their lives. Aside from the obvious worry they must be feeling, think how strretched out they are. Splitting their time between the hospital and work. Dealing with other family members who have a thousand questions. Being unable to help. Waiting for test results. And all this in the incredibly uncomfortable environment of a hospital.

    I bet some of our jerk families were perfectly nice people in the real world. (and, then again, I'm sure plenty are just plain jerks out there, too)
    SeattleJess, peaq, anotherone, and 4 others like this.
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    Also, it's worth noting that the kind of nurse I'd want as a pt and the kind you'd want might be two very different kinds of nurses. The last thing I'd want is a stranger trying to "connect" with me. Even if I just got bad news, I'd want a brisk, but polite, nurse who did an assessment, gave me my meds and got out of the room. When nurses like me act aloof like this, we *are* being the nurse we'd want as a patient.
    SeattleJess, anotherone, Susie2310, and 1 other like this.
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    Quote from BrandonLPN
    Yes, it's easy to lose perspective when you've been in nursing for a while.

    Families in the hospital are a handful, and lord knows they're annoying at the best of times. But remember, we're seeing them at their worst. When we see them it's usually among some of the worst and most stressful days of their lives. Aside from the obvious worry they must be feeling, think how strretched out they are. Splitting their time between the hospital and work. Dealing with other family members who have a thousand questions. Being unable to help. Waiting for test results. And all this in the incredibly uncomfortable environment of a hospital.

    I bet some of our jerk families were perfectly nice people in the real world. (and, then again, I'm sure plenty are just plain jerks out there, too)
    Yes......agree.

    And let's hope our patients never see us during one of our worst and most stressful days in our lives. Or at least if they do, let our behavior towards our patients not reflect the personal stress we ourselves are experiencing.
    SeattleJess and herring_RN like this.
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    Quote from BrandonLPN
    Also, it's worth noting that the kind of nurse I'd want as a pt and the kind you'd want might be two very different kinds of nurses. The last thing I'd want is a stranger trying to "connect" with me. Even if I just got bad news, I'd want a brisk, but polite, nurse who did an assessment, gave me my meds and got out of the room. When nurses like me act aloof like this, we *are* being the nurse we'd want as a patient.
    I try to be the nurse my patient needs. Sometimes I juse ask, "Do you want to talk?" or "Do you have questions?'

    I heard a nurse say, "I had some spare time to listen to my patient."
    Sad. New computers are taking up so much time.
    SeattleJess, anotherone, tnbutterfly, and 1 other like this.
  11. 5
    I have been hospitalized 3 times. The first time was a result of a torn ACL/ruined knee. The pain was excruciating and I was hospitalized for 2 weeks. The nurses who cared for me were fantastic. I wore a cast from ankle to hip for 6 weeks. The second time I was hospitalized was a result of a motorcycle accident. That was a bad one. Again, the nurses were wonderful. (This was back in the day when a patient, with good insurance, could stay in a hospital, on a med-surg floor, until healing was recognized.) The third time was a female issue and I was in the hospital for 10 days. One thing I remember: The nurses made me ambulate. ("No! please don't make me get up!")
    For each of these hospitalizations, there came the point when I had to get up and walk.

    By the same token, it has been my joy to ambulate patients, for example, after CABG surgery. There is a gentle way to do it.


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